I previously covered how the House of Lords voted to ‘refer back’ the judgement against Lord Lester (whose membership of the Liberal Democrats is currently suspended) over allegations of sexual harassment.
The turnout of Liberal Democrat peers in the vote was relatively low as it happened at the same time as the Liberal Democrat House of Lords group was holding an away day out of London.
Of those who were there to vote, they split as follows:
In favour of upholding the ruling against Lord Lester
Meral Hussein-Ece (whose speech is well worth reading)
Dick Newby (Lib Dem leader in the Lords)
In favour of referring back the ruling against Lord Lester
Five Lib Dem peers voted in favour of upholding the ruling, then, and thirteen voted against. The presence of the Lib Dem leader in the Lords in the five, along with Vince Cable’s statement on the issue, are a slight measure of reassurance along with the fact that the 13 did not make the difference on their own to the vote result (which was 101-78) compared with if they had been absent at the away day too.
But it still leaves the opposition of so many Liberal Democrat peers, as I wrote before, as wrong.
When, as is likely, the case then comes back to the Lords, there will be another opportunity for Liberal Democrat peers get this right. I hope they do so, not only for the party’s reputation but also, far more importantly, for the sake of having systems for reporting sexual harassment that actually work – rather than systems that fall apart when the allegations involve a powerful person with powerful friends.